Kim has changed his traveling routines, assigned his top commanders to probe possible ‘decapitation operations’ and even given up cruising around in his own Mercedes-Benz over fear of giving shadowy assassins the opportunity they’re apparently waiting for, a South Korean parliamentarian told the Korea Times following a briefing with the National Intelligence Service (NIS).
“Kim is engrossed with collecting information about the ‘decapitation operation’ through his intelligence agencies,” lawmaker Lee Cheol-woo of the Liberty Party of Korea said following Thursday’s briefing.
The 33-year-old may be justified in at least some of his fear: US and South Korean forces have undertaken military exercises mimicking taking out North Korea’s power structure in the event of a conflict. If war were to erupt on the Korean Peninsula, cutting off the leadership of North Korea’s formidable military is apparently one of the first missions US and South Korea undercover spies or Special Forces would undertake, according to the Korea Times.
Since the SEALs took a trip to the Korean Peninsula back in March, Kim’s anxieties have only grown. Kim has been involved in 51 public activities this year, Lee told reporters. His public visibility is down 32 percent from last year, Lee noted, citing NIS figures. “Since 2013, we have seen a downward trajectory of Kim’s public activities,” he said. “It shows that Kim has already succeeded in seizing power and securing his status in the regime.”
The ‘decapitation operation’ has been rehearsed by the US Navy’s SEAL Team Six, an elite fighting force credited with wiping Al Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden off the map when they stormed his hiding spot in Pakistan in 2011 in Operation Neptune Spear.
The SEALs joined forces with NIS operatives to train for the ‘decapitation operation’ back in March. Shortly after, North Korea’s Ministry of State Security threatened to “ferret out and mercilessly destroy every last one of the terrorists of the US CIA.” In Operation Neptune Spear, for instance, SEAL Team Six worked closely with the CIA.
Meanwhile, the western sanctions aimed at crippling the North may have backfired. “The despicable sanctions and pressure imposed on the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] by the US and its vassal forces have reached the extreme,” the North Korea Foreign Ministry said in a statement according to Yonhap News Agency. As a result, the DPRK plans to "speed up the strengthening of its nuclear force."
Of course, North Korea is doing its own spying as well: The NIS also informed lawmakers that the drone recently discovered near the demilitarized zone that divides the two countries had snapped some 551 photos of South Korea. A significant portion of the drone’s attention was directed at the controversial Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system sitting on a golf course in Seogju.